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Ministry of local Government and Regional Development. Polycentric settlement structures. (Odd Godal, Adviser, Vilnius, 230505). Measure 2.1 Promoting polycentric settlement structures.

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Ministry of local Government and Regional Development

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Ministry of local Government and Regional Development

Polycentric settlement structures

(Odd Godal, Adviser, Vilnius, 230505)

Measure 2.1 Promoting polycentric settlement structures

  • Measure 2.1. on settlement structures covers urban regions, rural areas and urban-rural partnerships. The focus is on projects which through transnational co-operation aim at strengthening the competitiveness of the BSR at three levels according to the concept of polycentric development:

    • (a) to make powerful metropolitan regions stronger at the international scale

    • (b) to promote less dynamic major cities to catch up with those being more successful

    • (c) to strengthen medium-sized and not very diversified secondary cities as future growth engines for rural regions lagging behind.

Measure 2.1 Promoting polycentric settlement structures

  • In order to strengthen urban regions as engines for economic development and overall functionality of BSR, co-operation between clusters of cities on specific development problems will be intensified.

  • This co-operation should concentrate on issues like strategic networking, making use of comparative advantages, economies of scale, R&D potential and specialisation, promotion of urban-rural partnerships and balanced development in urban regions as well as reducing urban sprawl.

Measuring polycentricity (ESPON Project 1.1.1)

  • Distribution of urban areas in a given territory (morphology; number of cities, hierarchy, distribution)

  • Relations between urban areas (functional complementarity, flows and cooperation

  • The building blocks of polycentricity are the functional urban areas (urban cores + the economically integrated areas around it)

The three dimensions of polycentricity:

  • Size. A flat rank-size distribution is more polycentric that a steep one, and a polycentric urban system should not be dominated by one large city.

  • Location. A uniform distribution of cities across a territory is more appropriate for a polycentric urban system than a highly polarised one where all major cities are clustered in one part of the territory.

  • Connectivity. In a polycentric system, both small and large FUAs have good accessibility. The more accessible lower-level centres are compared to the primary city, the less monocentric is the urban system.

The European pattern of polycentricity

  • The most polycentric countries are Slovenia, Ireland, Poland, Denmark and the Netherlands (Slovenia and the Netherlands have a high score for all dimensions, Poland has a balanced size distribution and Ireland and Denmark have a good distribution of FUAs over their territory)

  • The most monocentric countries are Norway, Finland, Spain, Hungary, Portugal and Sweden.

  • Some countries score less well because they are deficient in one of the dimensions (like Italy, Germany and the UK where cities are concentrated in one part of the country)

Pre-accesion aid and polycentrism (ESPON-project 2.2.2) – Recommendations

  • Macro level cohesion – Balanced support to prosperous regions in new Member States to enhance productivity (& snowball effects in long run) while realising investment related transfers to avoid desillusion of peripheral regions

  • Meso level - strengthening of institutional capacities for utilisation of interventions in terms of territorial impacts, especially with regard to coordination and partnership building & increasing absorption capacity

  • Meso level cohesion - Coordination of Sector Policies – as many reveal strong territorial dimension

Missing themes from measure 2.1 Promoting balanced polycentric settlement structures

  • promoting economic development of urban centres in rural areas (e.g. transnational urban networks targeted at certain fields - industrial clusters, innovation, transport, urban development etc) (partly met in 7th call; expected to be partly met through pipeline!)

  • enlarging the labour market as a strategy for urban-rural co-operation (expected to be partly met through pipeline!)

  • adaptation of macro-regions(defined through measure 1.1) to business development, focusing on the implementation of previously developed transnational concepts.

Missing themes from measure 2.1 Promoting balanced polycentric settlement structures

  • improving spatial conditions for business activities(inner-urban, urban-rural transportation patterns,centres of excellence for SMEs, co-operation between cities and their surroundings, more integrated and cross-sector orientation of public administration’s efficiency and capacity, access to information relevant for investments, spatial information and management systems)

  • profiling (especially medium-sized) cities and strengthening polycentricism through urban design, i.e. comprehensive concepts in urban planning in order to respond to changes in the socio-economic urban conditions (green field development/urban sprawl, declining quality of public services, new spatial/land-use demands, social segregation etc.

Overarching issues that should principally play a role in all topics

  • creating conditions for public-private partnerships

  • creating conditions for strategic investments / preparation of investments (especially when adapting to macro-regional strategies)

  • stronger involvement of E-BSR regions

  • Total remaining ERDF budget: 4,0 MEURO

  • Number of promising projects in the pipeline: 4


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